Australia vs India | Friday 15 January | The Gabba | Brisbane | 05:10
Australia once again underlined their credentials as the world’s number one ranked ODI team after comfortably defeating India in the first of five One Day Internationals thanks to magnificent centuries by Steve Smith and George Bailey.
The Aussies will head into the second ODI at the Gabba with a 1-0 series lead to protect. The Indians, on the other hand, will be desperate to prove that they can put in match-winning performances outside of the Sub-Continent.
To Win Match
There was a bit of cheeky banter from George Bailey in the press conference that followed the first ODI at the W.A.C.A. In their chase of India’s 310, the Aussie’s were 2-21 with Aaron Finch and David Warner back in the hut after two early breakthroughs from debutant Barinder Sran. Bailey gloved the first ball he faced down the leg side, and despite vociferous appeals from the Indians, umpire Richard Kettleborough was unmoved. Bailey would go on to score a magnificent century that helped the Australians to canter to a five-wicket victory. The Tasman native would go on to say, with more than a tinge of sarcasm to his tone, “would’ve been interesting to see on DRS, but we’re not the team that doesn’t want it”. Bailey's comments are likely to have added some extra spice to a series that was always going to be heated.
Moving on; Australia’s two debutants, Joel Paris and Scott Boland had a day to forget at the W.A.C.A. Boland, who is known for his devastating yorkers, missed his length far too often on his way to the worst-ever debut one-day bowling figures by an Australian. In his 10 overs, the Melbourne-native leaked 74 runs without taking a wicket. Joel Paris didn’t fare much better after his eight overs went for 53 runs without a wicket.
In fairness, though, all of the Aussie bowlers struggled against the rampant Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli who put on a massive 207-run second-wicket partnership. Only Josh Hazlewood and James Faulkner – Australia’s only two fit frontline quicks – were able put in decent shifts.
Australia’s chase didn’t get off to the best start, as they lost their destructive opening pair of Aaron Finch and David Warner early in the piece. Their dismissals brought Bailey and Steve Smith to the crease. The two played magnificently, putting on a partnership of 242 for the third wicket. While there was a bit of a hiccough when Bailey and Glenn Maxwell fell in quick succession, Smith would ensure that the Indians would go into the second ODI 1-0 down with his superb knock of 149. He would fall agonisingly short of his 150 as he chipped a Sran delivery down Virat Kohli’s throat at a shortish cover.
Looking ahead, I don’t really think the Australian management will tinker too much with the XI that got the job done at the W.A.C.A. Although Boland and Paris struggled, they have shown more than enough quality in this season’s BBL to warrant another crack at the Indians.
There is one forced change that sees David Warner head off for paternity leave with his child's birth imminent. This sees Usman Khawaja drafted into the squad in his place. The Pakistan-born batsman has scored 673 runs in four Tests and two Big Bash games and should slot into the side without any issue.
Rohit Sharma and Barinder Sran put in memorable performances in what was an otherwise forgettable day for the Indians. Sharma, who opened the batting with Shikhar Dhawan, carried his bat through the innings, eventually finishing on 171 from 163 balls. Sran, who was on debut, bowled magnificently well picking up the prized wickets of Finch, Warner and Smith – not bad for the Rajasthan Royals seamer, who prior to this game had only played eight List A matches. Kohli didn’t have a bad day out either, bagging 91 runs. If one could criticise his innings, he didn’t score particularly quickly at 93.81.
For the life of me, I can’t understand why the Indian selectors have persisted with Shikhar Dhawan for such a long time. While there’s no doubting his quality, his form over the last year or so has dropped off alarmingly. He ate up 22 balls for his nine runs in Perth on Tuesday which is simply not good enough. Gurkkerat Singh could be drafted into the middle order with Kohli given the responsibility up top with Sharma. Whatever management decides, it’s definitely time to give Dhawan some time off.
Ravi Jadeja and Ravi Ashwin should find a bit more success at the Gabba than they did in Perth. Shane Warne used to love bowling in Brisbane due the extra bounce he was able to extract from the deck. The slower pace and extra bounce proved to be the undoing of countless international batsmen during Warne's spells. Aside from Dhawan, however, there shouldn't be any changes to this Indian side who actually gave quite a good account of themselves in the first ODI. With 10-15 runs on the board and better luck when it comes to umpiring decisions, they may well have been 1-0 up in the series.
The Gabba has undergone a few major facelifts in the last ten years or so. The old grass and the dogtrack have all been replaced by modern stands. While this does detract slightly from the charm, it means that players and spectators have access to some of the best facilities in modern cricket.
The deck, like most others in Australia, favours the seamers. While there’s plenty of pace and bounce around for the quicks, there is a bit of bounce about for the spinners to work with as well. Local weather services indicate that there should be clear skies and warm weather.
Verdict: Usman Khawaja to top score for Australia: 7/2
Khawaja has been in blistering form of late and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him topping the Australian run-scoring charts. He takes very little time to get settled and is quick to punish any wayward bowling. He also fancies himself against the spinners, and with Ashwin and Jadeja coming off a caning in the first ODI, he’ll look to capitalise.
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